Christmas Tree Cutting in the National Forest

We decided to go for it this year! Cutting down a Christmas tree from the National Forest.

This actually wasn’t our first time. Darrick and I did this years ago when we had a dog baby instead of a human baby. We ended up on a steep and snowy forest road, which I was fairly certain we were going to slide right off of to our untimely deaths. And then it was freezing outside and very difficult to to find a tree, so we ended up with the Charlie-browniest tree ever. Which we actually quite loved in the end. 🙂

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This year we decided to try again, for a couple reasons.

One: We’ve had quite a bit more experience in the woods over the last couple years.

Two: Our Thanksgiving weekend is packed, and we didn’t want to wait another whole week to get a tree. That meant our day to go was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — Family Day! There is only one U-Cut farm open before Thanksgiving and it’s all Noble Firs … and we just weren’t stoked about the thought of paying $100 for a tree this year.

So the morning of, eggnog lattes and hot chocolate in hand, we headed to the ranger station at REI to get our $10 tree-cutting permit. We decided that if they said the weather was bad or the roads were dangerous, we’d bail and head to a tree farm sometime that following week, but all sounded clear and we were given a map with some ideas on where to head. (For some reason, we didn’t talk to anyone the previous time we did this. No idea why.)

Also, we just love REI. 🙂

And then we were off! We headed out to Highway 2 since it’s an area we’re relatively familiar with. It was a gorgeous drive, as usual.

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Funny thing was, my phone lost service the further out we got. Not sure why that didn’t occur to me before we left. Clearly I have more important things to think about. 😉 Between GPS and the super simple map from the Ranger, we figured out how to find the Forest Road exit we were looking for. We were originally aiming for Money Creek (NF – 6422), but I’m pretty sure we ended up on Miller River Rd (NF – 6410), just before Skykomish. (Map here!)

The road was clear and flat, and we just drove for awhile until we found some patches of trees that looked promising.

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Finally we found a spot (mostly one that didn’t look marshy!), so we packed up our tools and headed out into the wilderness!

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And then we saw her (Clark Griswold moment! … “Thith thtree is a thymbol of the thpirit of the Grithwold family Chrithmath.”)

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Olivia and I played around for a bit while Dad sawed!

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We were SO EXCITED to get such a beautiful tree!!!

By the way, this area was just amazing. Quiet and peaceful, lots to explore. I wish we had left earlier so we had more time to play!

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By the time we got home, it was dark. We hosed the tree down since it was caked with mud and moss, and left it outside in a bucket of water till morning. When we brought it inside, we realized how big it actually was. LOL! Funny how small it can feel in the forest. (SMH)

It really is beautiful, though! We couldn’t be happier. 🙂

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Leave a comment if you have questions! I totally recommend doing this. 🙂 🙂

Cabin in Ashford

Darrick and I have been daydreaming about owning a cabin someday, and thanks to AirBNB, we can test out the experience. We spent the weekend in Ashford, WA, in a cabin right on the Banks of Copper Creek and The Nisqually River.

It was pretty stormy all weekend, but we were able to take a walk along the river on Saturday, and our friends’ oldest kiddo got to cross the river (or maybe the creek?) on fallen trees with her dad — what an adventurer! She was very proud of herself … and the other kids were a mix of jealous and afraid. 🙂

We were deliciously lazy the rest of the time, watching movies, sitting in the hot tub, playing games. The kids stayed up late and got hot chocolate for breakfast. The parents also stayed up late and got wine and scotch (not for breakfast).

It was incredibly restorative. We also found a nice plot of land that looked like it could use it’s own little cabin …

Someday. 🙂

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You know it’s gonna be good when even the drive out is breathtaking!

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Audrey’s amazing adventure!

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Of course we got some workouts in ….
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Log tosses over the shoulder
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Overhead squats …
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And single-arm overhead squats 🙂

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Trying out the weakest airsoft gun ever made

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Never-ending entertainment with these crazies!
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Where will be your favorite memory???

Mount Walker

Mount Walker is out on the Olympic Peninsula, near Quilcene. We took the ferry to Bainbridge and drove from there. The Edmonds/Kingston ferry is an option as well.

We were trying to get some relief from the wildfire smoke and ash. It was nice to be in the woods, but you could barely see a thing from the top. We’ll definitely have to go back, because the view looks absolutely amazing.

A couple reports had said that although the hike was short (2 miles each way), the incline was grueling. We poo-pooed the reports, thinking we were fit enough to handle it. And we were, except they were also right. I mean, there was literally no part of the trail that wasn’t a climb! Olivia handled it surprisingly well. She complained a bit about her legs behind tired … but really I wanted to complain, too.

We stopped at the mile marker like we always do. And then we found ways to take our minds off the grind. On the way up, we decided that if you stepped on rocks or roots, it gave you power. So we’d try to step on all of them and make a funny noise. On the way down (which was also super challenging because your feet could barely gain traction), Darrick kicked a large rock down the path. As soon as the rock went off the side of the trail, it was done and him and Olivia found a new one. They must have gone through 15 rocks, at least. Eventually he and O found a rock that lasted and lasted and lasted. So they decided it should be a pet. They picked it up, named it Frank, and talked to it the rest of the way down, LOL. Frank is now in our kitchen, lovingly painted in pink, blue, and gold glitter.

After the hike, we stopped by at the 101 Brewery and Café for beers, a snack, and ice cream. (Very sadly, they were out of their honey brown ale. I had the wheat beer instead and it was quite delicious. With no IPA, Darrick got the pale ale and enjoyed it as well. The food was meh. Gear Head Deli was recommended to us but they close at 5 p.m. We’ll plan for it next time!) We also got to see our friend’s home away from home in Quilcene, which was rad! It made us start cabin-daydreaming again.

And then we *luckily* made the ferry home!! They are an hour apart at that point, and we were cutting it close. On the way to the ferry, Olivia said she had to pee. Doh! We told her to hold it, taking our chances on a worse-case scenario that you can probably imagine. As soon as we got to the ferry dock, I grabbed her and sprinted out to find a bathroom. We made it back to the car with minutes to spare before the incoming ferry started unloading (blocking our path back). Ah, the adventures of parenting. 😉

All in all, this is a long trip for a short hike. The joy is in the journey! Even though we had no view at the top of the mountain, we still had a lovely day.

The Ballard Locks

I have no idea why I love the Ballard Locks (officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) as much as I do. When I moved here over a decade ago and heard about the locks, I thought they sounded boring. Then I worked at a café a mile or so away, and I’d run over there often after work.

First of all, the grounds are incredible. Even with a thousand people around, walking through feels somehow peaceful, or maybe just homey.

And then WHY, oh why, is watching a huge receptacle slowly fill with water SO enrapturing?!? I have no idea, but it is. Thinking about how the locks were built and why is really interesting. And then it seems archaic somehow, so un-technological, so hands-on. I love that.

And I won’t lie — it’s also fun to people-watch the folks who come through. Some on enormous, super fancy boats or yachts; some on humble fishing boats; some filled with families who are sun-burnt and wind-blown. You can see why they all love being on the water.

The funny thing is, these are the only photos I have of the locks. LOL. You’ll have to go see it for yourself. 😉

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After you’re bored of the locks, there’s the salmon ladder. It is surprisingly exciting to watch giant salmon through the windows, trying desperately to jump or push their way to freedom.

If you stand in there and watch people watching the fish, you’d think they were secretly watching a Seahawks game on their phones. All of a sudden, salmon #1,863 jumping over the wall is somehow as exciting as Beast Mode pushing over the line. (I am TOTALLY right there with them, btw.)

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fishy faces!

Besides all that, there are sculptures to play on and around, and old, unused train tracks that lead to the locks. The kids loved playing train with Aunt Emily, and I won a $5 bet that I couldn’t balance-beam the length of the track. Booya!

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FINALLY, if you go, have dinner at Chinooks, and sit outside if it’s nice. Brunch there is my favorite, but it’s pretty amazing overall. And if you have one, bring a grandpa. They’re the best. 😉

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I am dying LOL!

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Arboretum

Papa and Grandma Jane flew in yesterday from Chicago, so today we took them to the Washington Park Arboretum.

We went from the Visitor’s Center, past Duck Bay, through Foster Island, and onto Marsh Island (where we’d actually never been before!). It was a beautiful day, and fun to watch the boats on the water.

(I’m itching to go back this fall to explore the REST of the arboretum and to see the leaves changing.)

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We followed up our walk with lunch at University Village, our favorite mall.

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Olivia the photographer!

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Lime Bike! These things are everywhere in Seattle right now!!!

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Love this little one so much.

Cougar Mountain – De Leo Wall Trail

Super busy day/week, but we had to get out!!! Found a close, short-ish trail. Olivia was tired … still recovering from 2 late nights of firework watching … so there was some carrying involved.

Cougar Mountain has 35 miles (!) of trails, so there is much exploring that can be done here!

We hiked the De Leo Wall Trail, which is rated “moderate.” The only semi-challenging part was getting out to the viewpoint, and the rest was easy (the kind of trails that are better for running than hiking). We also found that Olivia whines more on easier trails. I think it’s out of boredom. So while we recommend this trail if you need something flat, quick, and close; it’s not one of our favs. (Maybe the other trails are more exciting!)

Side note, when we ventured off to find the viewpoint, it felt a little like we were lost. We weren’t, but beware it might feel a little weird. We had access to a map on our phone, but here’s another map for reference. We saw at least one person come out in the wrong place, so it’s easy to get turned around!

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Little Si

Little Si was Olivia’s first mountain summit! Girlfriend hiked the entire way up all by herself (with only a little help from Dad on the really rocky parts). We were so proud, but more importantly, SHE was so proud. Go get ’em, baby girl.

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Often the drive to a hike is stunning. It’s our first breath of fresh air as we head out of the city.

O started off a little crabby today, but once she started climbing over rocks, her attitude was much improved. She may not realize it, but she loves a challenge.

 

The summit!

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And the hike down … with a little rest. 🙂

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